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Keeping up with Kohacon20 - Episode 4: Day 2 Recap


by Aleisha Amohia

Kohacon is the annual international conference of the Koha software community, and in 2020, is being hosted in Wellington, New Zealand. After a wonderful start to Kohacon20 yesterday, we were excited to get into Day 2 on 20 October 2020 at the Tiakiwai Conference Centre of National Library of New Zealand.

We started the day with the 1999 Koha Project Team – Rachel Hamilton-Williams, Rosalie Blake, and Chris. Cormack. Many of you will have already met Chris through past Kohacons and other events, but it was special for us to meet the rest of the team and hear them tell stories about the origins of Koha. They challenged us to think about how we can extend those open source values of giving, sharing, and caring for our communities into all the work we do, and to think more about climate action and sustainability in our libraries, beyond the choice of library software.

Rachel Hamilton-Williams, Chris Cormack, and Rosalie Blake, presenting the definition of Koha

Next, we moved into a lovely presentation from Sonia Bouis, discussing considerations around the GDPR when using Koha. We loved the way she managed to superimpose herself on fun background images – it made it feel like she was there with us, while also showing us a piece of herself and where she comes from.

Sonia Bouis presenting

Before breaking for morning tea, Kathryn and the Kohacon20 Organising Committee from Catalyst IT presented the Kohacon Community Video. We were saddened that the pandemic meant our international friends couldn't join us for Kohacon in person in 2020. So, we put together this video so we could still hear from people within the Koha community from all over the world.

After morning tea, Caroline Cyr La Rose presented the Koha catalogue she created for cataloguing Koha resources, specifically plugins. It’s just one wonderful example of the potential for Koha to be a catalogue for all kinds of resources. Jacinta Osman and Lee Rowe said they catalogue ukeleles and tool kits for students using Koha at the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, and Kathryn Tyree gave a second example where Kolovai Community Public Library in the Kingdom of Tonga catalogue bicycles for locals and tourists to ‘check out’ or hire.

Kristina Hoeppner then led us through an activity that everyone could participate in, whether they were joining us via the livestream or in the room. Together, we created a long list of integrations that Koha is already capable of, and a ‘wish list’ of integrations that will make Koha stronger. You can read through those lists and add more of your own ideas.

For the last presentation of the middle session, Sher Afzal Khan joined us live from Pakistan (4AM local time for him!) to discuss his study on the perceptions of Koha in Pakiston. It was fascinating for us to learn more about this, and a reminder that we can never assume that our experience of something will be the same as someone else’s experience – in fact, it may be totally flipped.

This month, many of Wellington’s eateries are participating in the Wellington On A Plate food festival, which has a Burger Wellington competition. We’re trying as many burgers as we can for lunch during Kohacon week!

Aleisha holding up a burger, with Hayley

After lunch, we heard from Myka Kennedy Stephens about how the patron, the librarian, and the developer are all needed to have a successful collaboration and future for Koha. People will find Myka’s presentation helpful for thinking of ways they can foster stronger relationships between these three types of Koha users and enhance what they’re doing in their libraries.

Next up were Ari Mäkiranta from Koha-Suomi Ltd and Esa-Pekka Keskitalo from the National Library of Finland. The way they described the consortia they are running and how they collaborate  was stunning and inspiring, and had us all imagining what we could achieve if our libraries worked as closely and actively together as theirs do.

Then, Jessie Zairo and Adam Brooks from Bywater Solutions were back! This time, they did a lightning talk discussing their approach to marketing with their partners, and how their partners are  enabled to then go and share their own stories and successes with Koha within their libraries.

After a quick afternoon tea, David Nind returned for a lightning talk, giving a beginner’s overview of OpenRefine for how non-developers can tidy up messy data. This would be super handy for libraries that don’t have the funds to pay an external person to handle their data migration.

For our final presentation of the day, Janet McGowan from PTFS Europe gave lots of great tips for how Koha can be personalised or customised for your library, particularly some things that librarians can do themselves. There were some cool examples where libraries needed a trick in the past, but now Koha has evolved and made these hacky solutions easier to implement.

Filip, Alex, Hayley, Aleisha in front of Parliament

It was a great day, packed with educational, interesting, and inspiring talks. We’re becoming more comfortable with the hybrid format, and finding ways to make the experience better for all of our attendees everyday. So far we’re having an awesome time and trust that you are too!

If you weren't able to follow us live, the full Day 2 livestream is available on YouTube, with timestamps in the description to easily skip to your favourite presentations.

Official photos from Day 2 are available on Flickr.

There is still time to register and participate in the rest of this week-long conference.

The programme and livestream link for Day 3 are available on the conference website. We hope you can join us!